What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
This past week, I was at a breakfast meeting and someone said to me, “Oh my GOD, you’re disappearing. You’re SO SKINNY.”
After thanking them and doing the “aw shucks” dance for about an hour, I found myself suddenly awash in candy wrappers that night, having hovered a good amount of tiny Reese’s cups while I sat in front of the TV.
Like any good addict, I quickly scrapped the evidence and made all the prerequisite “I’ll never do it again” promises (to, you know, no one in particular because I live alone) and made a workout schedule that was impossible to achieve to make sure that I wouldn’t be able to keep my promises to myself. Because I’m not really ready to be “SO SKINNY” yet.
A tiny bit of back story: I’ve just lost 75 pounds. I didn’t do it overnight; I actually took 18 months to get that weight off. I didn’t do any crazy fad diet; I just exercised more and started eating more cleanly. I gave up alcohol. I stopped eating crap processed food almost altogether (I reserve the right to dive into potato chips or chocolate when I really feel like it. I am human, after all), but for the most part, I’m a super healthy, clean-eating machine.
But here I am at the last 20 pounds, the final frontier. It’s exciting on one hand (I’m almost done! Yay!), but it’s also suddenly terrifying (Oh SHIT, I’m almost done!), which brings us to the “weight plateau” everyone’s been telling me about.
The physiological part is easy enough to understand: the first place you gain it is the last place you lose it. In other words, the fat and my ass/waistline have become lifelong friends. They’ve exchanged rings and have purchased a timeshare in Florida together. Getting the two of them to separate will take double the amount of effort it took to lose the initial 75 lbs.
That doesn’t bother me. What’s scaring the shit out of me is that I finally have to deal with the drama that led me to gain the 100 lbs to begin with almost a decade ago. In order for me to actually “let go” of the final amount of body weight, I have to admit why I put it there: as a protective layer against the outside world.
Now, before anyone who is really in love with their fat starts to get all hateful on me, realize that this is MY story. I have girlfriends who are big and beautiful and are just naturally all dangerous curves and a magical shape. I’m not talking about that. I’m thrilled for anyone who is curvy and naturally just amazing that way. You ROCK that look. My body shape in that manner wasn’t created out of love.
I put my weight on because I wound up extremely sick and depressed after a post date rape nervous breakdown led me to multiple doctors who put me on 26 different cocktails of medication so I could feel better about myself.
I didn’t. I felt worse and worse and inevitably shut myself into an apartment for almost a year with unending bags of snack food and alcohol. Every friend I had turned their back on me.
I threw that layer of protection on because I didn’t want anyone to look at me, touch me or come near me. In other words, that layer of fat -- for me, anyway -- became a suit of armor I used to keep people away from me. I used it as the excuse for things not going my way. “Sorry, I can’t get back out there and date. I’m overweight tonight.”
I put as much distance between myself and the outside world as possible. But, now that I’ve pulled it together and I’m not in that horrifying, dark place, I’ve decided to put the suit of armor down.
I’m not interested in enticing hereditary diseases to come wreak havoc on my body. (I’m predisposed to both heart disease and diabetes, both of which love excess body weight.)
I actually do want to get back out there and date again at some point. But the most important thing is that I’m ready (I think) to ditch all the excuses and deal with the things that led me to that horrifying point of having frozen chicken pot pie and a six-pack of Miller Lite for breakfast (which I did every Sunday for a year).
Once this layer of body fat is gone, I can’t blame anything on it anymore. The guy that didn’t look my way? It’s not because I’m heavy. It’s because I have a gigantic “Fuck off, do not approach” neon sign blinking over my head.
The violence that happened (and the fact that I topped it off a year later by dating a man who has been toxic for me for decades -- SO SMART, yes, I know) is still sort of tickling at the back of my brain. But there are no excuses not to try and deal with it anymore.
For me, the chastity belt is finally coming off. No more excuses, no more gigantic bags of candy and no more fear of what will happen if there’s nothing between me and life’s hard knocks.
So, here I go. Wish me luck. And as sensitive as this subject is, I’d love to hear from you. Has anyone else out there gained weight/used excessive food and/or alcohol to self-soothe because of a traumatic experience? How did you get past the experience? I really, really would love to hear from you, xoJane, gals. Let’s talk.